The Comparison of Two Situation Comedies

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The television shows the writer has chosen to study are Friends and the Big Bang Theory. Each of these shows is a situation comedy otherwise known as a sitcom for short. Currently, the timeslot each show was/is aired at 8pm at night on Channel Nine. Reruns of the show Friends are now shown on Gem every week night and the Big Bang Theory has reruns on Go! On Tuesday and also Channel Nine at 6.30pm on weeknights. With the reruns of the Big Bang Theory, on the night that the new episode airs at 7.30pm they have a triple episode run of the show, starting at 6pm like the daily reruns. Both of these sitcoms have been produced by Warner Bros. but both shows also have another individual production company. The television show Friends is a Bright/Kauffman/Crane Production and the Big Bang Theory is Chuck Lorre Production.

Each of these television sitcoms has a wide range of distribution. Both of these shows are shown in America, UK, Pakistan, India, Canada, Spain, Italy, Japan, Korea and China. Friends had a fairly low budget when it first started at $70,000 but once it started to get record ratings (especially around the fourth and fifth seasons), they increased their budget. When the final season was in production the producers had a $12 million budget per episode, so a minimum of $250,000 million for just the tenth series alone. The Big Bang Theory had a fairly big budget in the first season compared to Friends. They had $750,000 per episode. Friends’ budget was gradually increasing until the final episode which cost the producers $20 million.

Sitcoms universally share a simular plot structure. The sitcom, has two or three different stories or plot points. Story A, Story B and Story C which are made to split characters into different storylines. The opening sequence of the show starts with all the characters involved in the plot line of story A. The opening sequence shows other or even all the characters in the show sometimes with the addition of guest stars. This sequence lasts for 40-50 seconds. After this sequence it introduces a storyline and which is comic *(often using canned laughter) showing that the show fits the genre of sitcom. After there has been a gag it then introduces the start of story A, the show then runs to the opening credits where the actors/actresses are introduced.

Each sitcom has three-story plotline because this allows a variety of stories to be pursued in the episode of the show. These plot lines will, generally speaking, involve all the characters. Every sitcom has three or four main settings in the show. The opening sequence is usually set in one of these settings but very rarely a different place. The jokes, dialogue and appearance of the characters help guide the story to a climax before the end of the episode.

The starting credits usually have a very popular and captivating song that an audience can easily sing to. Usually these songs have been specifically written for the show e.g. The Big Bang Theory has an original theme some specifically written for it. The Big Bang Theory song was written specifically for the show by the Barenaked Ladies. Unlike Friends, The Big Bang Theory song actually tells a story. The song tells the story of evolution and pictures of famous discoveries and people like Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton with an apple next to him. This is the same for Friends which asked a band called The Rembrandts to perform a song specifically for the opening credits. At the conclusion of the credits it shows every cast member is introduced through a montage sequence.

The music in Friends is not always used to set a tone. The music used in Friend is used to simply cue the introduction to a scene. The beginning of The Big Bang Theory is different. Each time at the end of the scene, a sound comes on as well as a picture of an atom. At the end of The Big Bang Theory starting credits it shows the characters eating take-out food. A television show overcomes segmentation by...
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